Assistant Commissioner Nick Anticich has apologised to the girls’ families but maintained they were not victims of foul play.
Assistant Commissioner Nick Anticich has apologised to the girls’ families but maintained they were not victims of foul play.

Cops missed ‘blood on veranda’ where teenage girl died

POLICE investigating the "highly suspicious" death of a 16-year-old girl in Umbakumba either ignored or overlooked key evidence, including blood on the veranda of the house she was found in, court documents reveal.

Cheralyn Mamarika was one of three girls whose apparent suicides were probed during a coronial inquest in the Darwin Local Court last week.

The other girls were 15-year-old Layla "Gulum" Leering and 17-year-old Fionica James.

In a statement tendered to the inquest, detective Superintendent Lauren Hill, who reviewed each of the botched investigations, laid bare a series of missteps that failed to properly rule out the involvement of a third party in Cheralyn's death.



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The findings of Supt Hill's review include the failure to adequately examine the crime scene, resulting in key pieces of evidence only coming to light following subsequent witness statements and a return visit to the house by police two weeks later.

Among the blunders was a failure to notice the blood on the veranda or have a trampoline pole that may have been used to assault Cheralyn examined by medical experts.

Supt Hill also found officers were distracted from the investigation by "rumours" about the unrelated "killing of dogs".

"Time spent on site by initial attending investigators was insufficient to conduct a thorough response," she wrote.

"The scene was not adequately examined and limited to the bedroom only."

Supt Hill was also critical of the officers' failure to re-enact or properly examine the way in which Cheralyn was said to have taken her life.

On Friday, deputy Coroner Kelvin Currie told the inquest "there is not sufficient evidence to rule out third party involvement" in her death.

"The circumstances of Cheralyn's death remain most unclear and highly suspicious," he said.

Mr Currie also submitted there was enough evidence to support a belief offences had been committed in relation to the deaths of each of the other two girls.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Originally published as Cops missed 'blood on veranda' of house where teenage girl died